The History of Innovation

The History of Innovation

Tiny ideas enable great innovation

Innovations surround us every day. A key for their emergence is an idea-rich environment which, at the same time, is capable of interconnection, recombination and massive sharing of all the thoughts and ideas. Some of these innovations are even a result of trial and error. Nowadays, their growth is closely related to the size of social networks and to the easy transmission of all information. However, the concept of innovation can be understood in a much broader context. It does not necessarily have to be connected with today's technology and trends. Even some decades ago, every invention was perceived as innovation at the beginning, even though some of them might seem to be outdated now.


(AI, also machine intelligence, MI) is Intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.


Is the desire to obtain new knowledge (e.g., concepts, ideas, and facts) expected to stimulate intellectual interest (I-type) or eliminate conditions of informational deprivation (D-type). I-type epistemic curiosity appears to be maximally activated when individuals recognize opportunities to discover something completely new, whereas D-type epistemic curiosity is optimally stimulated when people lack specific pieces of information they wish to incorporate into an existing knowledge-set.


(from Greek μάθημα máthēma, “knowledge, study, learning”) is the study of objects and their relations. Examples of objects are quantity (numbers), structure, space, and change. There is a range of views among mathematicians and philosophers as to the exact scope and definition of mathematics

We can, for example, have a look at the internet, which has become an inseparable part of our lives. Nowadays, some scientists are already talking about the third phase of the web. It is a relatively new concept that refers to the third generation or the so-called intelligent or semantic web. Its essence lies in the fact that it has the ability to understand its user and helps him to sort information based on his preferences from a huge amount of resources. Marvellous, indeed.

Have you ever wondered, though, where it all began? How was the software born and how did this whole quiet digital revolution come about? The existence of the internet and today's innovations such as web applications would not have been possible without the birth of software and the first computers.

You can read more about this development in our blog posts that are based on the book “The triumph of the algorithm – how the idea of software was invented” from Dr Manuel Bachmann, a researcher at the University of Basel and lecturer at the University of Lucerne.

Articles on Innovation

  • How Software Was Born15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    How software was born

    In order to compete with the German encryption machine “Enigma”, just a few weeks after arriving at Bletchley Park Turing ordered a machine to be constructed – the hardware.

  • Book15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    How new things come about

    The source of innovation is “epistemic” recycling. This is a term from psychology and denotes the kind of curiosity that is directed at delivering more information to the organism and enabling it to acquire new knowledge.

  • Wheel Innovation15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    Innovation doesn’t happen by chance

    Even though in the history of science there have been some spectacular discoveries made by chance from time to time – from penicillin to Teflon to Viagra – these tend to be the exception.

  • The concept of the algorithm15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    The concept of the algorithm

    Although nowadays algorithms are primarily associated with software and computers, their origins lie much further in the past.

  • Basis For the First Programming Languages15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    Basis for the first programming languages

    “All Cretans are liars,” said the Cretan Epimenides. Is the statement by Epimenides true or false?

  • Computer Pioneers in Switzerland15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    Computer pioneers in Switzerland

    Information science in Switzerland owes its birth and early growth primarily to the farsightedness and drive of the Professor of Mathematics, Eduard Stiefel.

  • Artificial intelligence15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    Screw up your eyes and examine any lack of clarity

    The only identifiable principle in the over 2000-year history of the development of computer programs is: “Screw up your eyes and examine any lack of clarity in existing ideas to see if there is any as yet unrecognised potential for making them more precise.”

  • The Polymath's Calculator15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    The polymath’s calculator

    This was what is called a pinwheel calculator for the four basic arithmetic operations, which could be used to enter up to 8-digit numbers and display up to 16-digit results.

  • From Ada to Zuse: the computer has many mothers and fathers15.03.2018.
    Articles on Innovation

    From Ada to Zuse: the computer has many mothers and fathers

    However, many more years went by before the first real mainframe computers saw the light of day, and the final breakthrough had many mothers and fathers.

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